General information

Course type AMUPIE
Module title Chronicling The Past. Introduction To Medieval History Writing
Language English
Module lecturer dr hab. Jakub Kujawiński
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position Assistant Professor
Faculty Faculty of History
Semester 2023/2024 (summer)
Duration 30
USOS code 18-CTP-PIE



Module aim (aims)

The course aims to offer an insight into the history of history writing in Latin-speaking societies from Late Antiquity to the dawn of the Renaissance (c. 300-c. 1500). The diachronic and synchronic approaches will be combined in presenting the variety of forms of historical writings on one hand, and long-lasting phenomena on the other. The topics to be discussed include, among others, the place of history and history writing in ancient and medieval system of knowledge, typology of historical writings (world chronicles, church histories, historiae gentium, rulers’ gesta, local histories, annals), the reasons for writing histories and their uses in medieval societies, the relations between historiography and rulership, meta-historical reflections of medieval authors. These issues will be illustrated by extracts from a range of medieval chronicles and by selected manuscripts of historical contents.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)

Basic knowledge of the history of the ancient Mediterranean world and medieval Europe will be helpful.


1. Modern scholarship on medieval historiography. 2. The legacy of Classical and Hebrew history writing. 3. The place of history and historiograhy in ancient and medieval systems of knowledge. 4. The dawn of Christian historiography and its later developments. 5. Patterns of periodization of world history. 6. ‘Official historiography’: political authorities as promoters and supervisors of historical writings. 7. Localizing historical events: description of geographical settings in historical writings.

Reading list

Beryl Smalley, Historians in the Middle Ages, Thames and Hudson 1974.

Bernard Guenée, Histoire et culture historique dans l’Occident médiéval, Aubier 1980 (reprint 2011).

Historiography in the Middle Ages, ed. by Deborah M. Deliyannis, Brill 2003.

Justin Lake, Current Approaches to Medieval Historiography, History Compass 13/3 (2015), 89-109.

Prologues to Ancient and Medieval History. A Reader, ed. by Justin Lake, Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures, XVII, Toronto 2013.

Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle, voll. 2, ed. by Graeme Dunphy, Brill 2010; the online version ed. by G. Dunphy and Cristian Bratu, updated in 2014 and in 2016.